Faktum vendor Hannes Lindgren Eriksen on growing up with autism
Credit: Pär Ljung
By Malin Clausson
- Vendor stories
Hannes Lindgren Eriksen is 28 years old and works as a Faktum vendor in Gothenburg, Sweden. His pitch is at Stenpiren, a central travel hub on the banks of the Göta River where people hop on and off buses, trams and ferries as they travel around the city, archipelago and beyond. It’s a perfect spot for him: he can indulge his love of trains, trams and ferries while working as a vendor and delighting in connecting with his network of customers.
Eriksen is [a] Norwegian [name]; it’s my mum’s surname, and I’ve added it to my name. I have autism and Asperger’s, and in the beginning went to a regular school in Lerum municipality where I was harassed and bullied a lot. That continued when I moved to service housing in Floda and in March 2014, I tried to end my life. I was in a bad place. That summer I also suffered from psychosis. But I got great help from a psychiatrist, and I now have a contact person at my accommodation who is called Ali. This means everything to me. Now I’m completely recovered from my psychosis.
I have a passion for trains, trams and ferries – many people with Asperger’s have traits like this. I particularly like the trams in Gothenburg that date from the 1950s and 1960s, and I have my own name for all the trams. There is a tram called Håkan Hellström [named after a much-loved local musician], but I call it Eva. Trams with odd final numbers get women’s names, and those with even final numbers get men’s names. I travelled to Stenpiren the other week with Håkan Hellström, or Eva.
I love my pitch, as I can watch the ferries as they depart for Denmark, Älvsnabben and Karlatornet. Unfortunately, I experienced a lot of anxiety and pain in January and February and wasn’t able to work. It was really tough financially, but I have friends who have helped me. Thomas Jakobsson, who also sells Faktum, is one of my best friends. I enjoy selling Faktum on Stenpiren a lot and invest in building up a network of clients there. If people ask, I’ll tell them a cheeky joke when they buy the magazine from me.
Credit: Pär Ljung
Unfortunately, I experienced a lot of anxiety and pain in January and February and wasn’t able to work. It was really tough financially, but I have friends who have helped me.
In 2020 I was ill with Covid and was very down. I wrote a post on Facebook about collecting empty cans for the deposit return scheme in the hope that I could make enough money to pay for an annual rail pass. My stepdad helped me with the post and in six weeks we made enough for the annual pass. I travelled to Norrland a lot that year. After that I also travelled to Finland, and on the ferry in autumn 2021 I met a woman that I began a relationship with. She lives outside Helsingfors, and we try to see each other every month. Without Faktum, it would never have been possible. Long distance relationships are tough, but she also travels here as often as she can. She has Asperger’s like me and shares my interest in ferries. She likes the ferry to Sweden, which is called Ruotsiinlaivaa in Finnish.
On the days I sell Faktum, I set my alarm for 5.30 am. Then I take a walk and bus to town and sometimes buy two freshly baked cinnamon buns that I eat while I’m working. Well, I usually eat one of them right away! When I’ve finished selling, I take the tram to Faktum and buy more magazines. I always pay when I use public transport, even though I have very little money, because I want to support the public transport system. But it’s very expensive. Sometimes, if I have a monthly travel card, I let youngsters who are barely getting by travel on it. They usually really appreciate that.
Translated from Swedish via Translators without Borders
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